Financially supporting terrorists is going to cost double for the Palestinians, as Israel on Sunday froze over 500 million shekels (roughly $139 million) in tax monies owed to the Palestinian Authority (PA)—which mirrored the exact amount the PA paid to terrorists and their families in 2018. The move follows passage of a law by Israel’s government in July 2018 authorizing the financial seizure, according to a press release from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.
“Security officials presented data to the effect that in 2018, the Palestinian Authority transferred the aforesaid amount to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families and to released prisoners,” said the press release. “Therefore, it was decided to freeze the same amount of funds from the tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered increased checks on Palestinian Authority payments “linked to terrorism”—which includes the so-called “pay-for-slay” program of paying money to terrorists and their families. The press release noted that total amount of funding due the PA that will be frozen could be updated as more information on the terror payments is uncovered.
“This is an important law which we have advanced, and today we will pass it exactly as I promised,” Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, per comments released separately by his office.
The Palestinian Authority has long made payments to terrorists imprisoned by Israel, as well as families of terrorists killed by Israeli security forces, as part of a broader program paying to prisoners and families. The Ma’an News Agency reported that the Israeli tax money accounts for 7% of the PA annual budget.
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in comments included in the Ma’an report that noted the payment program for prisoners and families, said “scenarios” had been implemented to “deal” with the Israeli freezing of funds. He restated PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ support for the payments to prisoners and families of so-called “martyrs”—which includes terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians—calling the payments a “duty and debt owed by us.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 17, 2019)